Apple patent describes driverless printing

Mon, Aug 15, 2011


Printer drivers – the bane of most people’s computing experience. Hooking up an old printer to a new computer, or any permutations thereof, can sometimes result in a frustrating scavenger hunt for elusive drivers that may be located on an install disc you may or may not be able to find, or perhaps on a company website that leaves you perusing through literally hundreds of different drivers for printers that all sound strikingly similar.

I mean, do I have the CLX-2160, the CLX-3160FN or the CLX-3160N? Who the hell knows – which is why printing without drivers sounds oh so divine.

And as luck would have it, a new patent application from Apple describes a method of printing that works without first having to acquire requisite printer drivers.

Apple’s patent describes two ways this would work – one being cloud based and the other involving a universal printing protocol.

With respect to cloud-based printing, the patent details how a device could send printing data to the cloud which would then shoot down that same data in a supported printing format, allowing a nearby printer to print with ease. Essentially, this takes out the trouble of having to scrounge for printer drivers yourself.

As for universal printing, Conceivably Tech describes it thusly:

The first patent filed by Apple outlines the driver-less printing process as discovering a universal printer via a discovery protocol such as Bonjour, the use of a network printing protocol such as IPP  as well as PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file capability. The three components can be implemented via one or more APIs that enable any application to access a printer without the need for an additional driver, Apple said. The network connection could be established via different types of network connections, such as Bluetooth, 3G/4G, Wi-Fi 802.11, 802.15 or “any” peer-to-peer wireless or wired “networking technology.”

Apple’s patent describes the process like so:

During the printing process, a mobile device initially makes contact with printer through a discovery protocol as is described in more detail below. Next, after [the] printer is identified and selected, there are a number of ways that printing can be accomplished. If [the] mobile device possesses a driver for [the] printer, or if [the] printer supports driverless printing, [the] mobile device can use the driver or the driverless printing technique to generate printer data for a print joband can send the printer data directly to [the] printer. […] (Note that the term “driverless printing” refers to a printing technique which operates without the need for printer-specific software on a computing device. Instead, the computing device queries a printer to obtain capability information for the printer (including current-status information) and generates printer data for the printer based on the obtained printer capability information.)

Conceivably Tech has the full breakdown on the patent applications here.



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